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Murad Dervish gets life imprisonment for murder of professor Thomas Meixner

The+University+of+Arizona+hosts+a+memorial+for+professor+Thomas+Meixner+on+Oct.+5%2C+at+St.+Thomas+More+Catholic+Newman+Center.+The+memorial+honored+Meixners+life+exactly+one+year+after+his+death+in+2022.
Gracie Kayko
The University of Arizona hosts a memorial for professor Thomas Meixner on Oct. 5, at St. Thomas More Catholic Newman Center. The memorial honored Meixner’s life exactly one year after his death in 2022.

Murad Dervish was sentenced to life in prison for killing University of Arizona professor Thomas Meixner in October 2022. Monday’s sentencing came just over one month after a jury found him guilty on all counts. 

Dervish was found guilty of first-degree murder of Thomas Meixner, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, first-degree burglary and three counts of endangerment regarding faculty members within the John W. Harshbarger building during the shooting.

In a deliberation that took only two hours, the jury rejected Dervish’s defense of insanity and found him guilty on every count.

In a statement made through her attorney, Thomas Meixner’s wife, Kathleen Meixner, detailed the institutional failures that allowed this violence and stressed the importance of broader action beyond Dervish’s sentencing to honor her husband’s legacy and prevent something similar from happening again. 

“‘If you see something, say something’ is a crucial first step, but it is not enough to keep our community safe. That’s the lesson the University of Arizona administration, University of Arizona Police Department, Tucson Police Department, the Pima County Attorney’s Office, and the Constable’s office should learn from this tragedy […]. Many courageous people tried to do just that – they saw something and they said something. A private gun seller did that when he forwarded Dervish’s threatening messages to the Tucson Police Department. My family and I thank him for perhaps giving us a few more months with Tom and possibly preventing others from being targeted and killed. But it wasn’t enough,” Kathleen Meixner said.

Kathleen Meixner called for “enhanced” training of public safety officials to handle civilian reports the likes of which were involved in the lead up to the on-campus shooting in 2022.  

Kathleen Meixner also advocated the merits of red flag laws, and other common sense gun legislation like background checks, as ways to prevent this violence. 

“The man who took my husband’s life will spend the rest of his life in prison – but that doesn’t bring Tom back. My sons will never see their father again in this life. The University of Arizona lost a treasured professor. The community lost a brilliant scientist. But most importantly – this sentence does not prevent the next tragedy when absolutely nothing has changed in a society that allowed a man with a violent history to have a gun in the first place. My family deserved better, and the next family deserves better. We need a Red Flag law now,” Kathleen Meixner said.

“Red flag” laws are essentially gun-violence restraining orders, pieces of legislation that allow people to pursue judicial orders restricting the firearm-owning ability of individuals they feel threatened by. 

Kathleen Meixner appeared to have the support of the county in these remarks. Months ago, Pima County Attorney Laura Conover issued a statement expressing her support of red flag legislation in Arizona. 

“Red Flag Laws in effect in nearly half the states vary regarding their rules and enforcement, but they provide opportunity to remove guns from the hands of those who are known to present a threat to themselves or others. A Red Flag bill failed to pass in Arizona. Until we join other states by passing a Red Flag law, our police will be limited to the laws that are on the books, and preventable tragedies like this will continue to occur,” Conover said in a statement released from the PCA’s office

Kathleen Meixner finished her statement by highlighting ways in which the UA and surrounding Tucson community can honor her late husband. 

“I encourage everyone in our community to ‘Live like Tom.’ Tom was a grassroots volunteer for encouraging our citizens to do their civic duty and vote in every election. He would make phone calls and knock on doors, reminding people to mail in their ballots. It was amazing to me with everything he had going on in his life between family, work, and other service to the community, he always made sure to volunteer in this way,” Kathleen Meixner said. “We can honor Tom by informing ourselves about these critical safety issues, choosing candidates who support Red Flag laws and common sense gun legislation, and calling on our representatives to demand action. We can honor his memory by registering to vote and mailing in our ballots.”

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About the Contributors
Sam Parker
Sam Parker, Editor-in-Chief
Sam Parker is a senior at the University of Arizona studying journalism and public relations.
Gracie Kayko
Gracie Kayko, Multimedia Editor
Gracie Kayko is a senior at the University of Arizona studying journalism with a minor in marketing.